Jason Griffin Reidel attended college at Arizona State University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, later earning a Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine School of Law. With Jason’s entrepreneurial spirit, he combined his talents and his wife’s creative eye to form gorjana, named after his wife.
The company, founded in 2004, has grown to be a multi-million dollar powerhouse with Jason leading the company’s retail expansion to a total of 23 stores across the United States to date. The company, based in Laguna Beach, California, is still owned and operated by the couple today and employs over 150 people.
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Tell us a little bit about your current projects. What exciting milestone would you like to share with our readers? (Don’t hesitate to delve into your achievements, they will inspire the audience)
Jason Griffin Reidel: We have recently been taking the steps to prioritize brick and mortar as we’ve seen great results over the last year so I’m most excited about continuing our retail expansion through 2021 and beyond. For background, in the holiday season of 2017, we only had three stores and this holiday season we will end the year with 26. To open 24 stores in just 4 years is unbelievable and we are thrilled to be on this adventure. It’s really special to be able to bring our unique retail experience to different parts of the country – we like to say we’re bringing a piece of our home, Laguna Beach, to every new location.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Jason Griffin Reidel: I remember doing our first wholesale trade show in January of 2005, so almost 17 years ago. The show was in NYC, called Accessorie Circuit, on Pier 94 on the Hudson. We spent every remaining dollar we had to pay for a 10×10 booth at the show and we handmade the displays and shipped them to the show looking forward to our first big break. When we arrived in NYC, we had nowhere to stay (since we had no money!) so we crashed on our friend’s apartment floor and the next day when we got to the show we were told our displays were not going to arrive on time – of course just our luck – so we had a booth and a bag of jewelry with no way to display it.
We borrowed $200 from a friend, rented a truck, drove to IKEA in New Jersey, and bought a few shelves, and put them up at the booth. We ended up writing $50k of wholesale orders in 3 days at the show, which was great, but then we had no money to make any of the orders. The experience ended up being great but definitely our first big challenge. Of course, there were plenty of times we considered quitting, this being one of them, but we figured where’s the fun in that and kept trucking – which I am so thankful we did.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. What’s the worst advice you received?
Jason Griffin Reidel: I met with a financial advisor once who told me to take as much money out of our business as possible to invest in other things, and leave just the bare minimum in the business because it was too risky. I knew in my gut that wasn’t the right move for our business and if we were going to make this happen, we needed to be all in. We ended up doing the exact opposite of the advice given and it ended up being the best advice I never ended up taking.
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Jason Griffin Reidel: Positively. We saw a spike in online sales early on in the pandemic but throughout the course of our retail expansion, we really are seeing customers wanting to shop in-store more than ever. Getting out of the house and experiencing in-person shopping I think became more enticing than ever over this past year so retail has really boomed for us vs. online.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Jason Griffin Reidel: We have been in this business for 17 years so we’ve had the great opportunity to really build a loyal consumer base and take the time to develop how our business operates best. As a husband and wife-run business, we have a really solid foundation and ensure our family values and authenticity shine through in everything we do. We also pride ourselves on top customer service and want only the best for our customers.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Jason Griffin Reidel: Communication, Adaptability & Risk Tolerance.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Jason Griffin Reidel: Anyone can sell products, but to build a brand, takes a significant amount of time and patience. Going into the business you need to know how you want to be perceived and what your core values are that will be the foundation to the business – that will be crucial to ensuring you stay on your determined path.
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Jason Griffin Reidel: Empower people to be their own version of an entrepreneur and don’t micro-manage. You’d be surprised how much more creativity flows through business decisions when your employees feel comfortable expressing and sharing their ideas. When others feel supported in running their day-to-day tasks as they feel best suited within the company structure – the overall business thrives.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Jason Griffin Reidel: Be prepared to work twice as hard for half the pay. It’s an uphill climb and you’ll face some roadblocks but once you get to where you want to be and can truly execute your vision – there is no better feeling.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Jason Griffin Reidel: “Make the climb without the rope and then fear will find you again.” This means, being scared is a good thing, you should embrace the fear, and harness it into your success.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jason Griffin Reidel for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Jason Griffin Reidel or his company, you can do it through his – Facebook
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